Around The Town

Broadway Update

Water for Elephants, Lempicka, and Mary Jane Headed to B’way in 2024

By: David Sheward

September 12, 2023: The new musical version of Water for Elephants will be marching onto Broadway this spring, with previews set to begin Feb. 24, 2024 at the Imperial Theater and an opening is scheduled for March 21. Based on Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel, Water features a book by three-time Tony nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher) and a score by PigPen Theater Company. Tony nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo) directs. The world premiere engagement of the musical was held at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater, opening in June of this year. 

“Water for Elephants” at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Water for Elephants, Lempicka, and Mary Jane Headed to B’way in 2024

By: David Sheward

September 12, 2023: The new musical version of Water for Elephants will be marching onto Broadway this spring, with previews set to begin Feb. 24, 2024 at the Imperial Theater and an opening is scheduled for March 21. Based on Sara Gruen’s best-selling novel, Water features a book by three-time Tony nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher) and a score by PigPen Theater Company. Tony nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo) directs. The world premiere engagement of the musical was held at Atlanta’s Alliance Theater, opening in June of this year. 

The story concerns an aimless young man who jumps a moving train and finds himself caught up in the exciting world of a traveling circus. A 2011 film version starred Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz. The production will feature seven circus performers who will make a third of the cast. Capitalized at $25 million, Water is the biggest-budgeted show this Broadway season.

Eden Espinosa in Lempicka at La Jolla Playhouse.
Credit: Matthew Murphy

“What excites me most about Water for Elephants is working with our enormous design and creative team, an incredible group of artists from different avenues of storytelling. From Broadway veterans to puppeteers to circus artists—we have an eclectic collection of internationally acclaimed and innovative creators,” said director Jessica Stone. “What’s amazing about the culture of the circus is that you’re dependent upon one another to do a trick safely, so as a team we really all must lean on one another.  If we do our jobs well and connect with our audience we will, quite literally, get the story off the page and into the air.” 

Rachel McAdams will star in Mary Jane on Broadway.

Lempicka Casting Call: While there has been no official announcement, according to an Equity casting call, another musical, Lempicka will also open on Broadway next spring with rehearsals beginning in January and performances commencing in March 2024. With a book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer and music by Matt Gould, Lempicka is based on the real-life story of Russian refugee and scandalous artist Tamara de Lempicka, which also provided the basis for a long-running Off-Broadway immersive play called Tamara. Tony winner Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown) directs. The world premiere of Lempicka opened at the La Jolla Playhouse in June of 2022.

Rachel McAdams to Star in Mary Jane: Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams (Spotlight, The Notebook) will make her Broadway debut in Amy Herzog’s Mary Jane, presented by Manhattan Theater Club as part of their season at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater. Previews begin April 2 with an opening date to be announced. The play follows the title character, a single mom, as she deals with the multiple responsibilities caused by her son’s debilitating illnesses. Mary Jane premiered at Yale Repertory Theater in 2017 with Emily Donahue and Kathleen Chalfant. An Off-Broadway production followed the same year at New York Theater Workshop with Carrie Coon, Brenda Wehle, Susan Pourfur, and Liza Colon-Zayes. The play was named Best Play of the season by the New York Drama Critics Circle and won three Obie Awards. Anne Kaufman (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Marvin’s Room) who directed the Yale and NYTW versions, returns as stager.

Herzog was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her play 4000 Miles and last season her adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House played Broadway with Jessica Chastain. The author’s version of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People will also play Broadway next spring.

Carrie Coon and Susan Pourfar in Mary Jane (2017) Credit: Joan Marcus 

Mary Jane joins a growing number of 2023-24 Broadway productions which have been presented Off-Broadway in previous seasons. Others include Merrily We Roll Along, Harmony, Gutenberg! The Musical, Appropriate, and Prayer for the French Republic.

2023-24 Broadway and Off-Broadway Calendar

Fall 2023

Sept. 12–Infinite Life (Atlantic Theater Company/Linda Gross)

Sept. 12–Dig (Primary Stages/59E59)

Sept. 14–Death, Let Me Do My Show (Lortel)

Sept. 15–Prometheus Firebringer (begins previews; opening TBA) (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

Sept. 17–Swing State (Audible/Minetta Lane)

Sept. 18–Job (Soho Playhouse)

Sept. 27–Purlie Victorious (Music Box)

Sept. 28–Melissa Etheridge: My Window (Circle in the Square)

Oct. 3–Jaja’s African Hair Braiding (MTC/Friedman)

Oct. 4–The Refuge Plays (Roundabout/NYTW/Laura Pels)

Oct. 4–DruidO’Casey (Public/NYU Skirball Center)

Oct. 6–Stereophonic (begins previews; opening TBA) (Playwrights Horizons)

Oct. 10–Merrily We Roll Along (Hudson)

Oct. 12–Gutenberg! The Musical (James Earl Jones)

Oct. 22–Here We Are (The Shed Griffin Theater)

Oct. 29–Translations (Irish Repertory Theater)

Oct. 30–I Can Get It for You Wholesale (CSC)

Nov. 1–Poor Yella Rednecks (MTC/City Center Stage I)

Nov. 2–I Need That (Roundabout/AA)

Nov. 2–Sabbath’s Theater (New Group/Signature Theater)

Nov. 4–Waiting for Godot (begins previews; opening TBA) (TFANA/Polonsky Center)

Nov. 12–Scene Partners (Vineyard Theater)

Nov. 13–Harmony (Barrymore)

Nov. 13–Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Lortel)

Nov. 16–Monty Python’s Spamalot (St. James)

Nov. 19–Hell’s Kitchen (Public)

Nov. 20–The Gardens of Anuncia (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Nov. 24–Lone Star (Ruth Stage/Theater Row)

Nov. 30–Spain (Second Stage/Terry Kiser)

Nov.–Sad Boys in Harpy Land; Amusements; School Pictures (solo shows performed in repertory at Playwrights Horizons)

Winter 2023-24

Dec. 5–Manhatta (Public)

Dec. 10–How To Dance in Ohio (Belasco)

Dec. 12–Buena Vista Social Club (Atlantic Theater Company/Linda Gross)

Dec. 18–Appropriate (Second Stage/Hayes)

Jan. 9–Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/Friedman)

Jan. 17–Public Obscenities (previews begin; opening TBA) (TFANA/Polonsky Center)

Jan. 21–Aristocrats (IRT)

Feb. 8–Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (Vineyard Theater)

Feb. 21–Teeth (previews begin; opening TBA) (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 26–Pericles (previews begin; opening TBA) (CSC)

Feb.–Doubt: A Parable (Roundabout/AA)

Feb.–The Ally (Public)

TBA–Brooklyn Laundry (MTC/City Center Stage I)

TBA–An Enemy of the People

TBA–I Love You So Much I Could Die (NYTW)

Spring 2024

March 14–The Notebook (Schoenfeld)

March 19–Fish (previews begin; opening TBA) (Keen Co./Theater Five) 

March 21–Water for Elephants (Imperial)

March 24–Philadelphia, Here I Come (IRT)

March–Sally and Tom (Public)

April 2–Mary Jane (previews begin; opening TBA) (MTC/Friedman) 

April 5–Macbeth (an undoing) (previews begin; opening TBA) (TFANA/Polonsky Center)

April 11–The Outsiders (Jacobs)

April 12–Staff Meal (previews begin; opening TBA) (Playwrights Horizons)

April 25–Mother Play (Second Stage/Hayes)

April–Jordans (Public)

May 2–Wine in the Wilderness (previews begin; opening TBA) (CSC)

June–Cats (Perelman Performing Arts Center)

TBA–Cabaret (August Wilson)

TBA–Here There Are Blueberries (NYTW)

TBA–Home (Roundabout/AA)

TBA–Jonah (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

TBA–Lempicka

TBA–The Wiz

Fall 2024

King Lear (Kenneth Branagh Theater Company/The Shed)

2024-25

Smash

Spring 2025

Show Boat (Target Margin/NYU Skirball)

Future–Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death; Beaches the Musical; Black Orpheus; BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical; Come Fall in Love–The DDLJ Musical; Death Becomes Her; The Devil Wears Prada; Ella: An American Miracle; Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; Frida, the Musical; Game of Thrones; The Great Gatsby; The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation; High Noon; Imitation of Life; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; The Karate Kid; La La Land; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; The Mousetrap; Nancy Drew and the Mystery at Spotlight Manor; Our Town; Pal Joey; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; The Secret Garden; Sing Street; Soul Train; What a Wonderful World; The Who’s Tommy; Working Girl.